Decanting wine is essentially the process of pouring (decanting) the contents from one vessel (typically a bottle) into another vessel (typically a decanter). If you enjoy red wine or drink more affordable wine on a regular basis, then using a decanter is a great idea.
Decanting for sediment
Many of us associate decanting with older vintage port wines or aged Bordeaux – wines that throw off a lot of sediment as they age.
Sediment can be very fine and has a tendency to deaden flavor and expression. Decanting separates the wine from the sediment, which not only would not look nice in your glass, but would also make the wine taste more astringent.
Slowly and carefully decanting the wine ensures that the sediment stays in the bottle and you get a nice clear wine in the decanter, and subsequently in your glass.
Decanting for oxygen
A second and more everyday reason to decant is to aerate the wine. Many young wines can be tight or closed on the nose or palate. As the wine is slowly poured from the bottle to the decanter it takes in oxygen, which helps open up the aromas and flavors.
Highly tannic and full-bodied wines benefit most from this – wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet blends, Syrah, and Syrah blends.
The increased oxygen exposure to wine greatly improves the taste by softening astringent tannins and letting fruit and floral aromas come out.
How to Decant a Bottle of Wine
In the holistic act of appreciating wine, visual irregularities are bound to make a mark on how we first perceive a wine. In the end apart from decanting to remove sediment it is really about personal preferences. Rather than taking it too seriously, it is fun to experiment with decanting all sorts of wines to see what happens – and that is part of the pleasure.